A recent survey has found that foul language, gossiping and job gripes are commonplace in instant messaging (IM) communication at work.

Approximately 300 respondents in the U.S. and the U.K. participated in the poll, conducted by Blue Coat Systems, a security appliance vendor in Sunnyvale, Calif. The firm said almost half of respondents admitted using abusive language in IM conversations, while 40 per cent admitted that they had used IM to conspire with colleagues during conference calls.

While nearly 60 per cent of respondents did not believe IM conversations could be monitored, almost one-third confessed to having made “sexual advances” over IM, the firm added.

Additional data collected from survey respondents revealed that:

• More than 65 per cent of office workers surveyed used IM for personal conversation during work hours

• Just 27 per cent (U.S.) and 11 per cent (U.K.) of workers used IM for business purposes only

• Nearly 80 per cent of respondents admitted to gossiping via IM

• Almost 40 per cent of U.S. respondents claimed their employers did not allow unsupervised downloads

• Only 12 per cent (U.K.) and nine per cent (U.S.) of respondents said their employers only allowed them to download certain types of IM applications

• 64 per cent of respondents admitted to “exchanging neg